Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Thomas Zornes

April 27, 1943 – July 27, 2021


August 5, 2021

Thomas A. Zornes, 78, of Oakesdale, passed away July 27, 2021, at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

He was born April 27, 1943, to Robert and Emily (nee Miller) Zornes in Spokane. He graduated from Lewis and Clark before entering Gonzaga University where he obtained a B.S. in Physics. Zornes then served as a Captain and nuclear weapons specialist in the United States Army. He was stationed in South Korea during the Vietnam War.

After separating from the military, he then attended WSU to earn a bachelor's and then master;s degree in geology as well as a secondary teaching certificate for sciences. He was on the WSU varsity bowling team and could lay down a wicked alley-burning, left-hook ball that his children tried, but failed, to replicate. It was here that he met Kathy Reich.

After four years of "Coke dates" and an engagement ring hidden in a Cracker Jacks box, they wed on February 14, 1975. They were married 46 1/2 years, but were together for 50. Both taught in the Oakesdale School District starting in the

fall of 1974 and remained there for five years.

They left in 1979 to begin their family and on October 12, 1980 they welcomed their son, Peter. On July 3, 1986, their daughter Joy made her appearance and the family was complete. The couple worked tirelessly to ensure their children had wonderful childhoods and many opportunities to pursue their own diverse passions.

In 1988, Tom began working for a local agricultural fertilizer company at the Oakesdale plant, acting primarily as their bookkeeper. As the industry and the company evolved, so too did Tom's responsibilities. He eventually became the Customer Accounts Specialist for a large working group. He remained with the company for 33 years. During this time, he also served his town. From 1990 to 1997, Tom served as a city council member and then served as the town's mayor until 2004.

Tom faced great adversity in the last 20 years of his life, the worst of which was the murder of his son Peter in 2005. But through all the trials and tribulations, he remained a pillar of strength for his wife and daughter – and anyone who truly needed someone to support them in difficult times. He could be incredibly strong-willed, but when it came to his family, especially his wife, he had a soft, gentle spot a mile wide.

Tom was preceded in death by his son, Peter, father Robert, mother Emily, and mother-in-law Ida Mae (Clark) Reich. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, daughter Joy, Oakesdale, father-in-law Don Reich, Colfax, brother-in-law Tom (Gena) Reich, Kennewick, and sisters Leonna Zornes Bowers, Spokane, Sue (Greg) Plummer, Spokane, and Darla (Ralph) DeCristoforo, Maricopa, Arizona, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations can be given to the Peter A. Zornes Memorial Neuroscience Scholarship at Washington State University (https://giving.vetmed.wsu.edu/giving-opportunities/peter-zornes) or the Peter Zornes Memorial Golf Tournament, Kathy Zornes, director.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, 11:00 AM, at the Palouse Federated Church, Palouse, WA with Rev. Ian McMichael officiating. Burial will follow at the Oakesdale Cemetery with the United States Army Honor Guard participating.

Kramer Funeral Home of Palouse, Wash., is caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at http://www.kramercares.com


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